I’m not going to lie. I’ve checked out.

Dominaria United came and went, the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks got revealed, we saw all of Unfinity in its strange and silly glory, and we’re already on to previews for The Brothers’ War. Somewhere along the line I just… stopped. I saw the card reveals, and they looked neat. I saw the players get happy and excited about their new toys, and I was pleased for them. But it all rushed past in a haze.

It doesn’t help that I can’t tell what’s from a Commander deck versus a Draft set anymore, or that I have to keep checking for acorns to see if a card is legal. It also doesn’t help that interspersed with all these previews have been a plethora of digital-only cards and rebalanced versions of things I thought I already recognized. It’s gotten to a point where I can’t always tell if a card is official or fan-made. I’m lost in a forest I used to navigate blindfolded.

I know this particular crunch of sets was due in large part to delays; Wizards of the Coast, like every business, got hit hard by supply chain issues. Several products that were supposed to come out earlier in the year got crammed into early autumn instead, which is unfortunate. Even so, I’m not sure that spacing them out as intended would have helped. This year has already been a string of nonstop spoilers, making it difficult for anyone to keep up. The past few weeks were merely an example of an ongoing trend.

It’s kind of funny. In many ways this is “Magic as Richard Garfield intended,” as they say. When the game first came out, people weren’t actually meant to have encyclopedic knowledge of every card. Players were supposed to be surprised by unfamiliar spells. (“That card does WHAT?!”) This changed as time went on and information became more readily available, which shifted how the player base interacted with the game.

When Magic was only releasing about six sets a year (the four Standard releases plus a summer and winter product), it was a lot to track, but it was still doable. Over the past few years, there’s been a huge uptick in products; we’re sitting at nearly two thousand new cards coming out annually now. Add to that the huge variety of frame treatments (which require their own cognitive load), and I barely know what anything does anymore.

One of the reasons I’ve been having more trouble keeping track of everything surely has to do with the fact that I’m playing a lot less Magic than I used to. Between Fate Reforged and Theros Beyond Death, I only ever missed a handful of FNMs. At the time, I would often be playing Modern or Commander games on other weeknights, too. Now? I play maybe twice a month. That’s a huge shift, and despite pandemic restrictions being lifted, I still can’t bring myself to go back to an FNM or a prerelease. It doesn’t feel safe to me, and it feels like I’d just be putting the health of my family and friends at greater risk for the sake of a card game. So I find other things to occupy my time.

Still, despite my reduced involvement, I’ve done my best to keep up with everything. The new mechanics, the new lore… for a while I was doing pretty well. Even so, I’ve hit a wall creatively. There was a time when Magic-related song lyrics, card puns, format ideas and other silly ideas would spring into my mind with ease. That’s not really the case anymore. What’s more, I’m finding that the deck archetypes in each release either aren’t catching my eye, or they’re ones I’ve thoroughly explored in decks already. Outside of Limited, I don’t like retreading old ground, even when it’s something I really enjoy, like Aristocrats. It’s hard to get excited about yet another Falkenrath Noble when you’re already running half a dozen of them.

I don’t know what it is, but I tend to lose interest in building a deck if it doesn’t feel new or different. That could be because I’ve made something similar in the past, or because several other people are doing the same thing. I’ve never had a problem with people net-decking, and if that’s something you like, I fully encourage you to keep doing it! For me, though, copying a list someone else put together feels hollow and pointless; it’s not how I like to engage with the game. I’m the same way with model-making; I’m always finding a way to put my kits together differently from the instructions, so the end result will be something unique.

This is one of the big reasons I really took to Artisan Commander. The deck-building restriction gave me an opportunity to revisit old archetypes, but with a new twist. I was forced to use different cards than usual, so it wasn’t just a rehash of what I’d already done. Those decks are a lot of fun, but at this point they sit in one of two extreme states: they either feel good and “finished,” meaning I’m happy with the list and don’t really want to make any more changes, or they need a complete overhaul to get them anywhere near playable for the table. I’ll often pick up those deck boxes, look at a couple of cards, then put them back down, overwhelmed by the task at hand. As you can imagine, those overhauls have yet to get done.

I know an evening of focused work would do these lists (and me) a world of good, but I can’t seem to get over that hurdle. What’s more, I know I ought to start by sorting the rest of my collection. Sadly, my herculean effort to organize my collection when I built my cube only got me so far, and I didn’t keep up with it as new sets came out. At this point, maybe half my collection is sorted, with all the new stuff sitting in a jumbled mess. I choose to blame part of that on my day job, which eats up a lot of my time and energy. By the time I get off work, I’d much rather have a nap.

I’m not sure what this means for me, and for Rants of Valakut as a whole. I try to put a positive spin on what I write, but it’s hard to find a silver lining in any of this. I’ve consistently struggled in finding anything worth writing about for a while now, and I don’t seem to be enjoying my games as much as I used to. I’m proud of what I’ve written over the past six years, but it may be time to bring things to a close. At least for now.

I need a break, as much as it saddens me to admit. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, or what these articles will look like when I do, but in any case, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to post this nonsense every fortnight for as long as I did. I hope you found it as entertaining to read as I found it to write.

I wish you all the best, no matter what the future holds.


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